Anthony Hopkins goes head to head with a psychic killer in the latest attempt at a gritty detective thriller
Anthony Hopkins tries his hand at helping the FBI, only this time it’s not from inside a glass prison.Solace opens in the middle of an unsolved multiple murder case, in which FBI agent Joe Merriweather and his partner, agent Katherine Cowels have reached a standstill. No closer to catching the killer before he choses his next victim, Merriweather turns to old pal and former work colleague John Clancy, who has a very specific talent when it comes to solving crime.Solace is the second feature film for director Afonso Poyart, who had previously found success with his multi award winning Brazilian debut, Two Rabbits (‘2 Coelhos’ ). This time around he has taken to the shores of the US for his latest feature which centres around the unsolved murders and the FBI agents trying to crack the case with the help of a clairvoyant. The film was written by Ted Griffin (Oceans Eleven, Matchstick Men) and the screenplay by first-timer Sean Baily.
The film opens up right in the middle of a crime scene which is the most recent in a series of related murders, with the two leading FBI agents no where near to catching the person responsible. Desperate to prevent any further murders, Agent Merriweather (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) resorts to contacting a man with slightly controversial methods, John Clancy (Anthony Hopkins), who has what he describes as a deluxe version of intuition which he uses to help solve cases. More than a little skeptical of John’s psychic claims is Merriweather’s partner, Agent Cowels (Abbie Cornish), who believes in science and psychical evidence (is anyone else reminded of another FBI duo that fits this bill?) Still troubled by his daughter's death, John is hesitant to jump right back into the game, however as is always the case, John finally succumbs to the calling of an unsolved murder. Led by his psychic visions, John manages to fit the pieces of the puzzle together to ascertain what links each of the victims but he is yet to discover the motive behind the killings.
The acting in Solace is very much what you would expect from a film of this genre. You have the secretly emotionally damaged female who hides behind a strong masculine exterior played by Abbie Cornish. The all knowing yet silent type is given to us by Anthony Hopkins who manages to own most of the film, understandably, and deliver a reasonably decent performance. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Collin Farrell split the screen time between them, with Farrell only making an appearance intermittently until about an hour into the film. Morgan’s character is vaguely reminiscent of Brad Pitt’s Detective Mills in Se7en, which is reiterated over a family breakfast shared with Hopkins’ John Clancy. Overall the acting isn’t anything to shout about, with no stand out performances aside from Hopkins. I can’t help but feel that if this had been made into a series then the character development and story lines could have been pushed further and given enough time to really establish the characters.
This should have been a case for Mulder and Scully - it would have been a lot more enjoyable to watch.
There is some interesting camera work utilised in Solace, ranging from slow motion to fast flash cutting to emphasise the montaged visions experienced by Hopkins’ character; but there is also some unsteady camera work at play which at times gives the feeling of watching a TV series trying to achieve the same style as True Detective - and failing. The various intervals in the story alongside the slightly mis-matched music all add to the feeling that Solace may have fared better as a shorter pilot introduction into a new series. There are a couple of occasions where we see multiples of the same character on screen which were shot well and achieved a good effect but felt somewhat out of place, almost like Poyart was trying to cram everything into this one film.
The script for Solace started out originally as a spec script and was also rumoured to be a sequel to Se7en with original cast member Morgan Freeman attached, however this clearly didn’t transpire. Having collected dust for some time, Solace finally got the go ahead and managed to secure a couple of decent names to the billing - Anthony Hopkins and Collin Farrell. With origins loosely based upon the gritty dark detective thriller Se7en, one would forgivably have reasonably high expectations. Unfortunately for Solace, despite trying and almost emulating the formula of other good detective stories, it doesn’t quite manage to achieve the same effect.
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